With the FCC’s recent decision to begin the process of overturning Net Neutrality, many of us in the conferencing and collaboration industry are taking a deep look at our business and bracing for any potential impact this decision could have. While the reversal has not actively taken effect, everyone is asking the same questions: How will this affect our current business and how will this affect the direction of our industry?
In the past year, the push to the cloud has been a growing initiative that, until now, seemed to have minimal obstacles. Unfortunately, the repeal of Net Neutrality is a rather big obstacle that conferencing service providers will now have to finagle. The current expectation is that ISPs will begin to require companies to pay a premium cost for their internet based services to be accessible and reliable with a fast and strong internet connection. So, while traditional audio conferencing will remain unaffected, VoIP audio, web and video connections, which have become increasingly relied upon, will see severe impacts unless companies are willing to dish out whatever it may cost to guarantee that their service will have priority access to reliable connections.
This brings up another question as to who is going to pay for this? Will conferencing service providers absorb these costs or will these costs be passed down to customers and individual users? Will “free” conferencing even be an option anymore? These are questions that we will not have answers to until ISPs begin to map out what this new era of Net Non-Neutrality will look like. Most likely, the cost will have to be shared between the customer and their conferencing service providers, as it would be quite a burden for either to absorb the costs completely. And while many questions still remain, one certainty is that cost increases are likely unavoidable for collaboration and access to data if your business relies on the cloud.
With the “future of the cloud” up in the air, and depending on the availability of options, there may be a renewed interest in on-premises solutions. On-premises solutions will likely be a key asset in the wake of this change because they sit within customer networks and do not rely on any sort of tiered internet to function with reliable connections and unmatched security. It is a good possibility that in this period of transition and for the foreseeable future, companies may begin choosing to move back from the cloud to avoid the inevitable changes that will affect cloud services, their quality and cost-effectiveness.